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Serious data breach lands copyright chasers in hot water

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A controversial firm previously criticised for hounding internet users over copyright issues could face a £500,000 fine after releasing highly sensitive data on the internet.

ACS:Law, which hit headlines earlier this year for chasing suspected copyright abusers and demanding substantial payments, has been targeted during a leak of 5,000 broadband customers’ downloading habits concerning adult-themed material.

The list, which found its way on to popular file-sharing site, was reportedly stolen from poorly protected computers at ACS headquarters earlier this week. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has since claimed it will monitor the firm’s adherence to the Data Protection Act prior to and during the leak.

“Any organisation processing personal data must ensure that it is kept safe and secure,” the watchdog said. “This is an important principle of the Act. The ICO will be contacting ACS:Law to establish further facts of the case and to identify what action, if any, needs to be taken.”

ACS:Law specialises in music and film copyright cases, sending tens of thousands of letters to internet users suspected of illegally sharing files, but many have questioned the legality of its practices.

The company gathers IP addresses – a computer’s unique number when accessing the internet – of people suspected of breaching copyright laws. It then asks internet service providers to give them their home addresses so they can demand hundreds or thousands of pounds under the threat of legal action.

According to the BBC, hackers taking issue with the firm’s recent pursuit of copyright abusers are behind the leak and have forced the company’s website to malfunction for almost a week.

Those contacted by ACS in recent weeks and months have been advised to ignore any further letters and monitor their bank accounts for signs of fraud following this week’s data breach.


Written by Andrew Hodges

October 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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